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Future of Healthcare: AI Powered CarePods to be installed in Malls in the US

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Adrian Aoun has introduced the world to the future of healthcare through his AI-powered mall kiosk he named “CarePod.”

Based on the Forbes article on his cofounding of the San Francisco-based “CarePod” in the year 2016 declaring a fresh $100 million in funding to bring 25 of these pods to malls across the country, compares his healthcare approach to what Elon Musk is building at Tesla. 

The goal, like Musk’s vision of self-driving cars, is to put medicine on autopilot. “Slowly but surely we’re just migrating every single thing from doctor and nurse to hardware and software,” Aoun said. “In fact, we don’t even believe a doctor’s office should exist.”

Can doctors work from home too?

But Forward’s business depends on them; the company currently charges people $149 per month to get virtual and in-person primary care at its 17 medical clinics located in nine states and Washington, D.C. “We’re going to scale the pods far more,” he said, “but we’re keeping the clinics.”

The CarePod is an attempt to fully automate a check-up: A patient approaches the metallic, square 8×8 foot box, which is eight feet by eight feet, and unlocks it with their phone. Once inside, they find a chair and a large screen, where a robotic voice walks them through a body scan or blood pressure reading or finger prick blood draws — all of which they do on their own.

In the United States, only licensed professionals – doctors and certain nurses – are allowed to diagnose and prescribe medications to treat disease. This means Forward’s autonomous robot box has a Wizard of Oz man-behind-the-curtain problem: licensed medical professionals still have to interact with patients via video or chat to interpret the results of their diagnostics. “Behind-the-scenes, it’s sending your data to doctors that work for Forward that are kind of 24/7 sitting in front of screens,” said Aoun.

Unlimited access to the pods will cost $99 per month. Forward does not accept insurance and people on the CarePod membership cannot use the in-person clinics (though Aoun said he anticipates there could be a hybrid CarePod in-person offering in the future). He said around 35% of Forward’s current members are uninsured; he declined to share total membership numbers.

Reports based on Forward’s business, Aoun won’t disclose how much it costs to manufacture a CarePod, but he said Forward has raised $100 million to offer its “first batch” of 25 CarePods in office buildings and malls in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. He said he’s inked deals with major mall owners, including Westfield, Simon and Macerich, and expects the number of pods to start growing exponentially: “We’re gonna put more healthcare on this planet than the world’s ever seen”.

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